Why Can’t I Land a Job? 5 Ways to Turn Rejection into Growth

May 6, 2021 | Job Search Strategy

Rejection in Your Job Search

Rejection is bound to happen sometime, but it’s still hard – for everyone. Here are a few ways you can turn this potentially negative experience into a positive one. 

By: Katelyn Skye Bennett | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma

Have you been job hunting without success? The job search process can be grueling and tiresome, even discouraging at times. It’s disheartening to be ghosted by employers or hear some variation of “Thank you for applying, but this position has been filled by someone else.”

Somehow the rejection feels more personal after an interview because you’ve put more energy and hope into it. But never fear! We’ve gathered five overarching suggestions to help you grow and persevere in the process.

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1. Directly Ask for Feedback

Rejection doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation. Take a deep breath, and ask for feedback. Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Reply to rejection emails with grace and request their constructive criticism. While employers might not answer every time, their insight will be valuable when they do!

A few years ago, I was looking for jobs in a particular nonprofit sector. I had connections and experience, and I was told that I was wanted for the positions. But when it came down to it, I wasn’t chosen.

After this happened a few times, I sat down with one of my contacts for feedback. He encouraged me by noting that the funding for those programs was being cut across the board, so some positions weren’t around anymore and others were shifted within organizations as those budgets were cut. In this case, he said, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It was just the timing.

Looking back, I had a few cover letters that could have been improved, and I didn’t know as much about proper follow-up, but sometimes you’re rejected simply because there are just more applicants than jobs in a particular field.

You have the power to send an email in response to any rejection, graciously thanking them for their time and asking for ways you could improve in order to be a better candidate in the future. Had I done this more regularly, I might have received valuable feedback to help me grow and go further in my job search despite the challenges of the field.

My dad actually did this once and was reconsidered for the position, called in for interviews, and advanced to the final two candidates. He wasn’t chosen, but they hired him for a different position!

This is an inspiring example for sure, however, receiving and heeding feedback regarding ways you could improve will benefit you even if that “dream” scenario doesn’t occur.

2. Acknowledge the Goliath

If you’re new to the job search, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges.

According to TalentWorks, “On average, you have an 8.3% probability of getting a job interview from one job application. That means it takes 10-20 applications to get one interview. And, on top of that, it takes 10-15 interviews to get one job offer.”

While there may be more opportunity within high-demand industries, there are often more applicants than openings. The total amount of jobs in the U.S. is not equivalent to the amount you’re interested in, qualified for, or have access to.

(When considering statistics about total applicants vs. jobs, though, it’s also important to remember that many applicants to jobs are often unqualified.)

And in 2021, the recession has hit many industries in unique ways, complicating the job search even for employers. Give yourself grace in that respect.

3. Embrace the Growth Mindset

three girls on computers. Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com

Consider working on applications with friends to lighten up the experience, get a fresh set of eyes on your documents, and expand your professional network. Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

That being said, it’s important to determine which part of the process went wrong to lead to the rejection. It sounds simple, but if you were rejected after an initial phone interview, then the problem wasn’t your resume, so you don’t need to work on that as much as your interviewing!

If you’re not getting any interviews, verify that you’re submitting full applications (with resume and cover letter, always) and applying to jobs within the first five days of posting.

Have someone review your applications for typos or areas you can strengthen, and follow up with employers in a timely manner after submitting your application.

Networking in the job search takes you a huge step forward as well. Your connections can use their influence to have your resume pulled out of the stack and schedule an interview. In fact, estimates typically say 60% to 85% of jobs are filled through networking!

If you’re on LinkedIn and applying from there, is your profile up to spec and open to recruiters?

If you’re landing interviews but not gaining the job, consider your responses to the questions. Are your answers convoluted, perhaps, or do you avoid answering directly? Are you on time and presentable, particularly if you’re on camera? Shots angled toward your ceiling, forehead, or crotch aren’t professional, and background noise might be distracting if you aren’t in a quiet place or haven’t set up your audio settings to block out extra noise. Did you forget the crucial thank you email? Here’s a bonus tip: Don’t answer “What’s your greatest weakness” with the primary task. 😉

It’s helpful to follow up after the interview if you haven’t heard back by the stated time, too.

Considering the feedback we discussed in step #1 above will help you grow as you go. It’s going to take time, weeks and months of effort, but that’s why it’s always a wise idea to start applying early and be persistent. You can do it.

4. Take Deep Breaths

Person meditating. Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Job searching is mentally draining: Remember to take a break. Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

If you’re feeling low or worn out but really need a job, consider the following ideas:

You’ve got this.

Humble yourself for critical feedback from hiring managers or friends, and do some self-assessing as well. Remind yourself about your strengths and the assets you bring, but allow for growth, especially if you’ve never used a career coach before to help you learn the ropes.

5. Don’t Give Up

Perhaps you’ve applied for 50 positions and received four interviews, though they didn’t pan out. According to the TalentWorks study above, that’s an average application to interview ratio! You’re doing well.

Track your results. What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t? Count the applications and interviews, and assess your data. Mark areas of success or struggle within each and consider this information within your daily job search ritual.

Ask yourself if it is time to switch to a new strategy or to reach out for advice in order to land the next job, and celebrate how far you’ve come as you push forward!

If you think you need to improve your strategy, you’ve come to the right place! At Let’s Eat, Grandma, you can either have one of our trained professional writers re-do your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile, or use their expert advice to improve your documents on your own with our downloadable resources, starting at just $25. If your documents are fine but you think you need help navigating the job market with networking and a clear strategy, check out our Career Compass Bundle.

American Job Centers, funded by the Department of Labor, also offer job readiness training and career coaching for free, if you fall into the eligible adult, dislocated worker, or youth categories.

You have what it takes to find a new job. Remember that, and keep pushing!

Ready for more job search help?

Sign up for a free Senior Writer Resume Critique to see what's holding you back from landing interviews. One of our top professional resume writers will give you personalized feedback on the top 3 items you can improve based on our expert practices!